Growing Desperate - Book Cover - Mike OI’m a desperate man.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I do think the way you and I sometimes feel about desperate people (avoid them) is way different than how Jesus feels about desperate people (they attract Him).

I started writing this book out of desperate places in my own life, when my marriage was in a bad place and our family was hit with a devastating diagnosis. God met me in that place, and I started writing in a raw way to process that journey toward restoration. “Thoughts untangle when they move through lips and fingertips,” someone once said. That was definitely the case for me, a soul in crisis untangling itself through fingertips on a keyboard.

Christianity for me had become a set of neat Christian teachings whereby we become really neat Christian people. I wouldn’t have exactly said it this way, but spiritual self-sufficiency was sort of the goal. Give me some good principles and I’ll take it from here, Jesus.

But the rug got pulled out from under me and I cried out to Jesus in a heartfelt way, reaching out to clutch on to the hem of His garment like the hemorrhaging woman in Luke 8.  Just like her, I felt His transforming power.

I also got a greater heart for desperate people during that season.  As I looked up out of my own desperation and into the eyes of Jesus, I could see and sense His compassion for other people in desperation. He fully intends His church to be fueled with heaven’s compassion toward them. There’s a Part I on desperation (in us) and a Part II (toward them).

So that’s why I wrote the book and I hope you love it.

Here’s a short little promotional video and some other promotional, pluggy type stuff:

Paperback and Kindle edition now available on Amazon.

Book Release Party, with live music performances by Dave Nevland, Clark Zaunbrecher and Andy Combs, along with a dramatization of the Luke 8 woman by Crystal Kehn. Friday, September 23, Opa Coffee Bar, Austin, 7-9 PM

Book Signing at Barnes and Noble in South Austin on Saturday, September 24, 1-4 PM

A sneak preview in sermon form.

Advance Praise:

“Honesty is what you will find as you advance through the treasures that await you in this unforgettable book. The words are not the hollow ramblings of an academic, but rather the wisdom of a man who writes from the depths of his quest to find meaning and hope in the darkest and loneliest circumstances you have ever endured. My life has been profoundly and deeply shaken by my friendship with Mike O’Quin. I invite you to read his meditations on human desperation. Prepare your heart. I dare say, you will never be the same.” — Paul Richardson, author of A Certain Risk: Living Your Faith at the Edge (Zondervan, 2010)

“One of the biggest dangers for the Western Christian is to wrap our lives in so much bubble wrap, that we no longer remain vulnerable, raw, broken and, most of all, dependent upon Jesus. Mike carefully removes the bubble wrap we have put around our own souls as he reminds us that it’s only in our desperation that we can fully meet the perfect love that saves us. Growing Desperate reminds us that, in the same way Jesus noticed the desperate hemorrhaging woman, He notices our own, everyday brokenness as well, if only we would be desperate enough to reach up. After reading this book, you will be.” — Jessica Honegger, founder and CEO of Noonday Collection, author of Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared

“Growing Desperate offers a most inspiring and compelling insight into Jesus’ promise of the kingdom for the poor in spirit. It’s well-written and chock-full of fascinating stories of Mike’s experiences from his life and the lives of people he’s served both in the U.S. and Indonesia. His winsome, transparent style of writing invites the reader to be more than okay with our own neediness. Most refreshing is Mike’s call for us not to just look inward but to also look outward to others who are needy. Mike lives what he’s addressing in his book, thus it carries much authority.” — Ron Parrish, author of From Duty to Delight: Finding Greater Joy in Daily Prayer 

“Mike O’Quin is equal parts storyteller and theologian. His writing is crisp and relatable, his stories are engaging, and he unpacks the Scripture with the insight of a seasoned pastor. Growing Desperate poses one of the most troubling central questions of my faith journey, ‘Where is God when I feel desperate and alone?’ It’s a question we’ve all asked, and Mike provides an answer we all need to read for ourselves.” — Rob Stennett, author of The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher and The Perfect Dad

“There are generally two types of writers who fill the pages of books in stores. The first are famous people who need some help to make their story readable. You’ll buy the book ‘cause you know who they are but struggle to finish reading their passable drivel. The second are people you’ve never heard of who have ridiculous writing talent.  Imagery leaps off the page so vivid and real you forget you’re reading. You’re living the story.  You can’t wait to read more, wished it wouldn’t end and ache to read it again. Mike O’Quin is that second type of writer. Even better, he’s lived desperation from Austin to Indonesia. You’ll feel his stories tugging at your soul. More importantly, you’ll hear the voice of God calling you to a life that’s richer, riskier and singing a new song.” — Peter Nevland, author of Exposing the Psalms and I’m Going to be a Zebra

“A much needed message for all who have come to the end of themselves and have realized their brokenness and desperation. Mike O’Quin eloquently shares how those who have exhausted themselves spiritually, emotionally, and relationally can find rest and healing for their weary souls. Growing Desperate is an excellent, moving explanation of both the heart of God and the Gospel. A highly recommended read that is sure to bless believers at every stage of life.” — R. Duncan Williams, author of the Thinkwave series

“Mike is a great communicator whether he is speaking, writing, or just in a group at lunch telling stories. Mike is also vulnerable and honest. He is good at opening up his own life and struggling with how he is doing at pursing his deepest values more than 20 years into his walk with Jesus in pastoral ministry and as a missionary. Growing Desperate will bring a challenge and comfort to you as the reader, or to a friend who really needs the encouragement.” — Mark Buckner, pastor, Community of Faith Christian Fellowship, Boston

I hope you love it! If so, please share it on your social media and review it on Amazon or GoodReads. If not, send me a personal, private email. 🙂

Thanks so much — Mike O

Rope’s End

It was 1 AM on Tuesday, June 6th at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Baggage Carousel Number Eight, when we came to our rope’s end.

Our family of six had just been traveling over a gruelling, 36-hour cross-Pacific Ocean trip from Malang, Indonesia to New Orleans, Louisiana (via Surabaya, via Hong Kong, via Los Angeles, via Dallas Ft. Worth) and our exhausted, jet-lagging bodies were looking forward to a refreshing night’s sleep a hotel near the airport. The next morning my parents were going to pick us up in their car, and I would rent an extra car to get us and all our baggage to their house in Mississippi two hours away.
That was Plan A.
Plan B started when we got to the airport and learned that my parents could not pick us up the next day because my dad was ill. My aunt, who lives in Louisiana, would be picking us up instead. I felt bad for my inconvenienced Aunt, my sick dad and the delayed reunion with my parents, but more worrisome for me was that my mom would not be able to bring us our new bank cards. Our old ones, I learned en route, no longer worked as our bank had changed over and we didn't receive the notice. So I was holding in my wallet worthless cards and a depleted supply of U.S. cash.
No problem. The hotel had free shuttle service so hopefully they would let me check in without a credit card, since they already had my number on file, and my aunt would pick us up the next day. We would borrow some money from her to pay for our stay, use her credit card for the rental car, and then pay her back once we got to Mississippi and were reunited with my folks and our new cards.
That was Plan B.
Plan C started when we got to Baggage Carousel Number Eight, and while waiting for our suitcases to wind there way to us, I learned on a courtesy phone that the hotel we had booked doesn't offer shuttle service past midnight. It was now 12:30 AM (yes, that would have been helpful information to know ahead of time).  We set up camp at some benches in front of the carousel with our ten large suitcases and six carry-ons and four spent children while mom and dad made a plan. My wife suggested I go back to the courtesy phones and look for another hotel that offered 24 hour shuttle service. Surely there would be one.
That was Plan C.
Plan D started when I could find no room in the inn, at least an inn with 24-hour-shuttle service. I made my way slowly back to base camp, dreading the response of my near-delirium family. The reality was slowly seeping into my mind that we were going to have to settle down for the night right here in this metallic baggage claim area.  While I shuffled back to them I kicked myself for not exchanging more Indonesian rupiah into U.S. dollars in Hong Kong. In one last desperate attempt at transportation before I delivered the bad news, I swung by a row of waiting taxis.
“Can you give my family a lift to the Comfort Suites hotel?” I asked a bored taxi driver.
“Sure thing.”
“Well, here’s the problem. I have a new credit card and the number, but I just don’t have it on me. But it’s really me.”   Even as the words were leaving my mouth I knew how absurd and seedy that sounded. “I have the little CSC number too and can prove my address.”
The taxi driver looked at me like a man who has just been offered a Rolex watch from shady man in a trench coat. He waved me off.
By the time I got back to base camp, the two younger kids were trying in vain to sleep on the benches and the two older kids were walking up and down the deserted corridor.  I'm not sure what they were doing—maybe checking for leftover coins in pay phone change slots.   Ana looked at me sweetly and joked, “Dad, we will beg for money.”
“No,” I answered and quoted from Psalms. “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread…and I'm not going to start now!”
This was the testing moment. I could see it in both Caleb and Ana’s eyes. Even though they are good sports and we were all sort of joking, they were watching my response to this stressful situation.  How is dad going to respond to us being broke and abandoned at the New Orleans airport? And I had to answer those eyes. Am I going to have an emotional temper tantrum, maybe get into a fight with my wife while deflecting the blame? Or will I put my trust in God?
I decided right then and there that I was clutching on to Jesus. “Guys, you’ve heard me say this before, but God always makes a way where there is no way. We’ve seen him do it a thousand times. Jesus is not going to abandon us at the airport.”   I wasn’t entirely sure if I believed it in this case but the conviction at least came through in my voice.
I got back to Stephanie and she was taking it like a seasoned trooper. She made another suggestion to get on-line to see if we could find more hotels that offer free shuttle service. We could put our new credit card number in their system and maybe that would be enough to get over the second hurdle of checking in without the actual card.
That was Plan D.

Plan E started when our laptop could find no Wi-Fi signal at the airport (come on, this is supposed to be high-tech America??!!). At 1 AM I marched back to the courtesy phones and decided to call every single hotel in the provided phone list, even the ones that didn't advertise shuttle service. One lonely night auditor named Dave answered the phone at the Quality Inn. I explained my situation, praying under my breath the whole time.
He answered slowly. “Well, I’m the only one on duty and I’m really not supposed to leave the property…” More desperate prayers through bated breath. “…but I guess I could lock up the lobby and pick you guys up in the van.”
Exhale breath. Take one more deeper one.
“Thanks so much, Dave. But there’s just one more thing. Can we check in with a credit card number and then tomorrow pay with a different card. We just traveled form overseas and we don’t have our new card yet.”
“Yeah, that would be fine.”
Exhale again, this time with joy. “You are a life saver Dave.”
I delivered the glad tidings to the clan and we set up a new base camp at the waiting bay for hotel shuttles. The airport was almost completely empty by then. The only sound was our our giddy family celebrating the success of Plan E by putting our last remaining American dollars into the vending machines to purchase cokes and Doritos.
Dave the Life Saver picked us up in the hotel van and we checked in at the Quality Inn at 1:30 AM without a credit card. We slept like only people with caffeine and Doritos and joy and jet lag in their systems can—very well.
God once again made a way for us O’s where there was no way.